Opinions on the offence


And the Oscar for most easily offended goes to… writes Killian Woods

Everyday I wake up and like most of my generation, I lie on my side and look at my phone to check the meagre social media developments that happened since I went to bed at 2:00am.

I follow up that craving with a glance at the headlines. You never know what might have happened overnight. Jennifer Lawrence may have fallen on a stairs or the whole internet might be ganging up on Seth McFarlane. You just never know.

A caveat to those thinking about embracing this morning routine is that looking at Twitter before 9:00am is by no means cognitively healthy and is a bad start to any day. It leads to overexposure to some of the stupidest opinions that manifest themselves out in the wastelands of the internet. Even though I’m an advocate of everyone in society giving their two-cents in 140 characters, I abhor how easily people get offended and broadcast it freely.

A perfect case point is the tirade of criticism and abuse that rained down on Seth McFarlane following the Oscars for what people adjudged to be a string of distasteful jokes.

He was criticised for his opening song-and-dance number called ‘We Saw Your Boobs’, where he listed off actresses that have revealed their breasts in movies, which supposedly enraged the Hollywood actress community. Like best actress award winner on the night, Jennifer Lawrence, remarked after the show, “I loved the boob song, I thought [Seth MacFarlane] was great!”, I don’t see the issue.

When these groundbreaking subject matters hit my timeline, all I have to contribute are what I feel are inane questions like, ‘So, those actresses revealed their breasts and he’s not making it up. Then why can’t we make jokes about it?’ and ‘Can we only acknowledge that they showed their breasts if we appreciate it as an art form?’

Another of his apparently repugnant jokes highlighted a serious problem such as Chris Brown being ingratiated back into celebrity life despite a domestic abuse charges being brought against the rapper. Referring to the plot of Django Unchained, McFarlane mused that it was “the story of a man fighting to get back his woman, who has been subjected to unthinkable violence. Or as Chris Brown and Rihanna call it, a date movie.”

His wit in this instance was wasted on the crowd, only drawing applause from Robert Downey Jr. and being listed as one of the “9 Sexist Things” to happen at the Oscars by Buzzfeed.

However, his most notable gag from the night involved Quvenzhané Wallis. The nine year old, who was nominated for best actress for her performance in Beasts of the Southern Wild, was used as bait to taunt George Clooney as McFarlane quipped, “To give you an idea of how young she is, it’ll be 16 years until she’s too old for Clooney.”

I wouldn’t be so quick to jump to his defence for the latter because sexualising an actress so young isn’t appropriate, however, that doesn’t mean I didn’t find it very funny. Although it is an inappropriate joke, it is still a funny joke and no amount of offence taken or criticisms branded will change the fact that George Clooney dates women less than half his age.

In a column for, Margaret Lyons wrote, “I’ll tell you what’s not helping: the biggest night in film being dedicated to alienating, excluding and debasing women. Actual gender equality is a ways away, but I’d settle for one four-hour ceremony where women aren’t being actively degraded.”

Similarly, Amy Davidson of The New Yorker wrote in regards to the ‘We Saw Your Boobs’ number, “The women were not showing their bodies to amuse Seth MacFarlane but, rather, to do their job. Or did they just think they were doing serious work? You girls think you’re making art, the Academy, through MacFarlane, seemed to say, but all we, and the “we” was resolutely male, really see is that we got you to undress.”

It’s only a personal opinion, so don’t harass me for having it, but those two previous extracts are a perfect example of how sensitive society has become about making jokes. Due to the widespread accessibility to events such as the Oscars and the ability to scrutinise and vex an opinion on the internet, the desire for a perfect politically correct culture has gone into overdrive.

It has gotten to a stage where no one even understands why they are offended any more. And a result of this ambiguity is that the rat race to be offended causes people to clamber over each other in a frenzy to be the first to hold the moral high ground on the latest controversial issue.

However, just because you’re offended, that doesn’t mean you’re right or gives you justification to dismiss someone else expressing themselves or in this case, making a few jokes.

Opinions should be grounded in having a logical solution to what you are moaning about. The main solution I’ve come across has been don’t tell jokes at the Oscars any more and let Amy Poehler and Tina Fey host the awards. I agree that they would make excellent hosts and were under-utilised at the Golden Globes, yet suggesting this solution hints that the only apparent problem is men and can only be solved by women taking over roles such as these.

Which reminds me of a joke in their opening monologue at the Golden Globes. Speaking about Les Miserables Tina Fey quipped, “Anne [Hathaway] shot her big Les Mis song all in one tight close-up. And she said that it was really difficult performing with a camera so close to her face.” “Well”, Amy Poehler responded, “She’s never going to make it in porn.” “I don’t think she has any plan to do porn, Amy” said Fey, to which Poehler replied, “None of us have plans to do porn”.

Is that unnecessary sexualisation of women? What would the reaction be if Seth McFarlane said that? I’ll give you a minute to gather yourself and get offended.